Tag Archive: rebirth


Goddess Hertha

"Incense Fire" by *Zingaia

“Incense Fire” by *Zingaia, based on Jean Delville’s drawing, “Parsifal”.

“Hertha’s themes are rebirth, kinship, health, longevity and tradition. Her symbols are dormant trees and snow. In ancient times, on this day people venerated Hertha, the Teutonic Goddess of fertility, domesticated animals, magic and nature. In Germanic tradition, Hertha descended through the smoke of any fire today and brought gifts, much like an early Santa Claus figure (giving Her solar associations too). Her connection to nature has survived in the name for our planet: Earth.

Yule takes its designation from a Old English word meaning ‘wheel’, representing the turning of time’s wheel back toward the sun. In early times, this festival included parties for various sun Gods and Goddesses; it eventually was translated into the celebration of Christ’s birth. Any light source or burning incense can symbolize Hertha’s presence today.

Besides this, look to the world’s traditions for magical ways of making your celebration special. For example, Swedes eat a rice pudding with one lucky almond; whoever gets the nut receives good fortune. Russians toss grain into people’s homes for providence as they carol. Armenians make a wish on the Yule log when ignited and sometimes make divinations by the cider patterns made afterward. Bohemians cut apples in half. If there’s a perfect star in the center and it has plump seeds, it portends joy and good health. Finally, kiss someone under the mistletoe for a long, happy relationship.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

“Nerthus” by Lisa Hunt

According to Wikipedia, Hertha is another name for the ancient Germanic earth Goddess, Nerthus (click on Her name to be taken to that entry).  In addition to that information presented in Nerthus’ entry, Patricia Monaghan wrote that “no legends survive of the Germanic Goddess from whom we get our word for earth.  It is known, however, that She was worshiped into historic times, when plows were carried in Christian Shrovetide processions in honor of the earth’s fertility.   Hertha was also frequently invoked by medieval witches as their special patron” (p. 152).

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Hertha”.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Asatru Religion, “Goddess Nerthus Or Eartha Or Jordh“.

Encyclopedia Mythica, “Nerthus“.

GardenStone. Goddess Holle: In Search of a Germanic Goddess.

Krasskova, Galina . Northern Tradition Paganism, “Who is Nerthus?

Monaghan, Patricia. Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nerthus” at p. 488.

Mystic Wicks, “Nerthus {Goddess of the Week}“.

PaganNews.com, “Nerthus“.

Reaves, William P. Boudicca’s Bard, “Nerthus: Toward an Identification“.

Twilightmists.tripod.com. “Hertha, Ertha, Nerthus“.

Wikipedia, “Nerthus“.

Williamson, George S. The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche.

Goddess Cailleach Bheur

"The Cailleach Bhuer" by ~AltaraTheDark

“The Cailleach Bhuer” by ~AltaraTheDark

“Cailleach Bheur’s themes are balance, cycles, rebirth, overcoming and winter. Her symbols are snow and blue items. In Scottish traditions, this is a blue faced crone Goddess who blusters with power throughout the winter months. She brings the snow and cold until the wheel of time turns toward spring on Beltane (May Day).

Just as darkness seems to be winning, the Crone Goddess stirs in the earth’s womb and inspires hope. She knows that the time for rebirth as a young woman will come in spring, when She will fertilize the earth. For now, however, the first step is renewing the sun, whose light will begin to get stronger.

Since this Goddess is one of cold honesty, wear something blue today to encourage personal reserve, control, and truth with yourself throughout the day.

In keeping with the themes of the Winter Solstice, you could try this mini-ritual:

In the morning, cover your altar or a table with a yellow cloth (maybe a napkin or placemat) to represent the sun. Place a blue candle in a central location on the table, along with a bowl of snow to represent Cailleach Bheur and winter. As the candle burns with the light of the sun, the wax shrinks and this Goddess’s snows melt, giving away once more to the power of warmth and light.

Keep the remnant was and re-melt it for any spells in which you need a cooler head. Pour the water from the snow outside to rejoin the Goddess.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

 IMG_2234

Well, the Cailleach has appropriately blessed us with Her presence yesterday and overnight here in Upstate New York!  Now, it’s beginning to look like a real North Country holiday season!  It was quite inspiring while researching Her and I was able to find a TON of great info that I listed in the “Suggested Links” at the bottom for you to browse through at your own leisure.

"Cailleach" by Mairin-Taj Caya

“Cailleach” by Mairin-Taj Caya

Patricia Monaghan had this to write about Cailleach: “Her name, pronounced correctly, sounds like clearing her throat, but ‘coyluck’ is a near approximation.  One of the world’s Great Goddesses, She went by many names: Cailleach Bheur or Carlin in Scotland; Cally Berry in northern Ireland; Cailleach ny Groamch on the Isle of Man; Black Annis in Britain; the Hag of Beare or Digne in Ireland.  She was vastly ancient; the Irish Triads say: ‘The three great ages: the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, the age of the Hag of Beare.’  She could endlessly renew Her youth.  All the men She loved – and they were countless – died of old age as She went on, returning to the prime of life, finding another pretty young one with whom to share youth.

"The Cailleach Bheure" by Jill Smith

“The Cailleach Bheure” by Jill Smith

She had one eye in the middle of a blue-black face, an eye of preternatural keenness.  She had red teeth and matted hair ‘white as an apron covered with hoarfrost.’  Over it She wore a kerchief and over Her gray clothing, a faded plaid shawl. She owned a farm and hired workers for six months with the stipulation that none would  be paid who could not outwork Her.  Looking at the hunched old thing, many a man fell for the trick and paid with his life, dying of overwork while trying to keep the pace She set.  So strong was She that She carried boulders in Her apron; the ones She dropped became mountain ranges.

She controlled the season and the weather; She was the cosmic Goddess of earth and sky, moon and sun.  Beacuse She does not appear in the written myths of Ireland and Scotland, but only in ancient tales and place names, it is presumed that She was the Goddess of the pre-Celtic settlers of the islands off Europe.  She was so powerful and beloved that even when newcomers imported their own divinities, the Cailleach was remembered” (p. 77 – 78).

Cailleach rules the dark half of the year, from Samhain to Beltane, while Her young and fresh counterpart, Brighid or Bride, is the queen of the summer months.  At least one tradition views Bride and the Cailleach as being one and the same, with the Cailleach drinking from the Well of Youth at the beginning of each spring, whereby She is transformed into the youthful Bride. However most traditions in Scotland have them firmly pitted against each other as two differing personalities.  She is sometimes portrayed riding on the back of a speeding wolf, bearing a hammer or a wand made of human flesh. [1] [2]

“Alternate names: Cailleach Bheur, Cailleach Uragaig, Cailleach Beinne Bric (‘Old Woman of the Speckled Mountain’), Cailleach Mor (‘Great Old Woman’) (Scotland); Cailleach Bheirre, Cailleach Bolus, Cailleach Corca Duibhe (Ireland); Caillagh ny Groamagh, Caillagh ny Gueshag (Isle of Man).” [3]

I would really like to share a neat short film with you that Grey Catsidhe had shared with our Druid group back in November entitled “An Cailleach Bheara“.  Click on the picture below to be taken to the Irish Film Board (ifb) site.

cailleach

I also really enjoy and respect the work that rainbowpagan2 on YouTube does, so I wanted to share this video as well.

 

 

 

Sources:

Firedragon, Tansy/Rachel Patterson. Tansyfiredragon.blogspot.com, “Cailleach and Bride“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Cailleach”.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “The Cailleach, Celtic Crone Goddess of Winter“.

Wigington, Patti. Paganwiccan.about.com, “Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter“.

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

Firetree.net, “Cailleach“.

Forest, Danu. Danuforest.co.uk, “The Cailleach, the old woman of winter“.

McHardy, Stuart. Goddess Alive! Goddess Celebration and Research, “The Goddess in the Landscape of Scotland“.

Mysterious Britain & Ireland, “The Caillech Bheur“.

PaganPages.org, “Cailleach“.

Shaw, Judith. Feminismandreligion.com, “Cailleach, the Queen of Winter“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Cailleach Beara“.

Sparrow. Journey Around the Wheel of Life, “Cailleach“.

Tairis.co.uk, “Bride and the Cailleach“.

The Suppressed History Archives, “Crone“.

Wikipedia, “Cailleach“.

Woodfield, Stephanie. Darkgoddessmusings.blogspot.com, “Bride and Cailleach: Drinking from the Well of Youth“.

WolfWinds, Silver. Order of the White Moon, “Cailleach“.

Goddess Arianrhod

“Arianrhod” by Emily Brunner

“Arianrhod’s themes are the arts, magic, manifestation and rebirth. Her symbol is a silver wheel (spinning tools i.e. shuttle, yarn).  In Welsh tradition, this is the Goddess of the ‘silver wheel’ upon which magic is braided and bound together into a tapestry of manifestation. Stories tell us that Arianrhod abides in a star where souls wait for rebirth (the wheel here becomes the wheel of life, death, and rebirth).

Known as Catherine of the Wheel, Saint Catherine of Alexandria oversees spinsters (literally and figuratively). Like Arianrhod, she is a patroness for lace makers and seamstresses.  In keeping with this theme, today is an excellent time to try your hand at making a special pouch for housing some of your magical tools or trinkets. Begin with two rectangles of natural-fiber cloth one inch larger than the item you wish to house within. Put the right sides together and stitch three edges, leaving a three-quarters of an inch opening at the top for a drawstring or finished edge. Turn the pouch right side out. Repeat the Goddess’s name to bind Arianrhod’s power in each stitch. Fold over the top hem twice so it won’t unravel, and stitch that with silver thread for the Goddess’s protection.

If time doesn’t allow for this, a favored beverage to inspire this Goddess’s blessings is ale or cider with an apple slice or caraway bread and tea. Pour a little of this out as a libation, then drink it fully to awaken and energize Arianrhod’s magical potential within you.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Arianrhod” by ~lucreziac

Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd) is “the Goddess of the ‘silver wheel’ [and] was a Welsh sorceress, who, surrounded by women attendants, lived on the isolated coastal island of Caer Arianrhod.  Beautiful and pale of complexion, Arianrhod was the most powerful of the mythic children of the mother Goddess Dôn.

It was said that She lived a wanton life, mating with mermen on the beach near Her castle and casting Her magic inside its walls.  She tried to pretend virginity, but a trial by the magician Math revealed that She had conceived two children whom She had not carried to term: in leaping over a wizard’s staff, Arianrhod magically gave birth to the twins Dylan-son-of-Wave and Llew Llaw Gyffes.  Dylan slithered away and disappeared.  Arianrhod’s bother, the poet Gwydion, recognized the fetus as his own child, born of his unexpressed love for his sister.

Gwydion took the fetus and hid it in a magical chest until it was ready to breathe.  Arianrhod, furious at this invasion of Her privacy, denied the child a name or the right to bear arms – two prerogatives of a Welsh mother – but Gwydion tricked Arianrhod into granting them.  Eventually the Goddess overreached Herself, creating more magic than She could contain; Her island split apart, and She and Her maidservants drowned.

“Is she real?” by BlondieMel

Some scholars read the legend as the record of a change from mother right to father rule, claiming that the heavenly Arianrhod was a matriarchal moon Goddess whose particular place in heaven was in the constellation called Corona Borealis.  The argument has much in its favor, particularly the archetypal relation of Arianrhod to Her sister moon Goddesses on the continent, who like Artemis lived in orgiastic maidenhood surrounded entirely by women.  Other scholars, unconvinced that the Celts were matriarchal at any time, see Arianrhod simply as an epic heroine” (Monaghan, p. 53).

Upon reading Her story, my initial reaction was “Damn…that’s pretty cruel and spiteful.”  But as Claire Hamilton in her piece entitled “Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?” points out, “If Arianrhod really is the great mother of the Sacred King child, then why does She seem so vindictive? What are these so-called curses about? Why does She seem to be denying Her son his rights?  And why is She so powerful that Gwydion has to work so hard to outwit Her?  In addressing these questions, we should first bear in mind the strong possibility that by the time Her tale was written down by the Welsh monks, they had spotted Her pagan power and decided to deliberately slander Her name.”

“Arianrhod” by Alois Noette

Hamilton sums up her entry by stating, “I believe that Arianrhod can be seen not as a furious and vindictive woman, but as a powerful and wise matriarch.  A mother who truly understood the needs of her son, and the sacred requirements of Her maternal role, and who was not afraid to use Her Crone power to secure them. And for these reasons, I believe that the wonderful Goddess Arianrhod, the beautiful woman whose feet rest on the crescent moon, and whose head is ringed with stars, is a hugely important figure in Welsh myth, and a deeply inspirational model for all mothers today.”

“Arianrhod is said to be able to shapeshift into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon magick, and initiations. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, Her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek Her.” [1]

Below is a list of associations that I put together from a few different sources that I could find:

ASSOCIATIONS:

Pantheon: Celtic (Welsh)
Elements: Water, air
Associated Planet: Moon
Colors: Blue, purple, grey, silver, white
Symbols: Triple Goddess, wheels, spinning tools, the silver wheel, the zodiac, nets, the full moon, Corona Borealis, Oar Wheel (a special boat that carries dead warriors to Emania, or the Moon Land)
Areas of Influence: Reincarnation, fertility, female power, sovereignty, fate, beauty, past life memories, difficulties
Sacred Animals: Owls, wolves
Suitable Offerings: Silver coins, wheat, candles (green and white).
Gems/Metals: Silver
Sacred Tree: Birch

[2] [3] [4] [5]

HOLY DAYS:

January 12: Day of Arianrhod: Welsh Celtic holy day. Day of Arianrhod (Welsh) Goddess of reincarnation, the Wheel of the Year, the full moon, fertility, and female power. Often portrayed as a weaver [of spells], She is linked to lost creation myths. — Celtic information provided by Shelley M. Greer ©1997.

February 14: Arianrhod steps over the magical wand of Math: Celtic holy day. Arianrhod steps over the magical wand of Math, which manifests truth, to prove her virginity. The wand causes the seed of her lover, which is in her womb, to ripen, grow and give forth in an instant, giving birth to Dylan Ail Ton, whose name means “Sea, son of Wave”. Dylan makes straight for the sea, and is accidentally slain by his uncle Gofannon. Her brother, Gwyddion, snatches up the after-birth to incubate Llew Llaw Gyffes, the great archer. — Celtic information provided by Shelley M. Greer ©1997.

 December 2: Festival of Arianrhod: Welsh holy day. The Goddess descends on a silver chariot to watch the tides.   [6]

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Community-2.webtv.net, “Arianrhod“.

Hamilton, Claire. Goddess Alive!, “Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?

Inanna.virtualave.net, “Arianrhod

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Arianrhod”.

Rainbowpagan. Youtube.com, Goddess Arianrhod“.

Teenwitch.com, “Arrianrhod“.

Thewhitegoddess.co.uk, “Arianrhod – Goddess of the Silver Wheel“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Bianca. Orderwhitemoon.org, “Arianrhod, Goddess of the Milky Way“.

Celtnet.org.uk, “ArianrhodA Cymric goddess: Silver Wheel, Silver Orbit“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Arianrhod“.

Journal of a Poet, “Arianrhod, Moon Goddess of the Silver Wheel“.

LadyRavenMoonshadow. Sacredmistsblog.com, “Goddess of the Week: Arianrhod“.

Shaw, Judith. Feminismandreligion.com, “Arianrhod, Celtic Star Goddess“.

Sisterhoodofavalon.org, “The Goddesses“.

Skye, Michelle. Goddess Afoot!: Practicing Magic with Celtic & Norse Goddesses, “Meeting Arianrhod, Welsh Goddess of the Stars” (p. 23 – 31).

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Arianrhod“.

Wikipedia, “Arianrhod“.

Goddess Nephthys

“Nephthys” by Hrana Janto

“Nephthys’ themes are death, ghosts, rebirth and devotion. Her symbols are sunset and the hawk (Her sacred animal).  Just as Isis embodies life’s energies in Egypt, Her sister Nephthys is the force of death and reincarnation. Traditionally, Nephthys dwells in tombs, building and welcoming spirits into the afterlife. Her name means ‘death which is not eternal’, referencing the Egyptian belief in the soul’s rebirth to a new existence.

Following on the heels of Hallows and All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day honors the faithful departed. In early times children would go ‘souling’, collecting small cakes believed to rescue souls from purgatory.  In keeping with this idea, go out at sunset to honor Nephthys with a small cake or cracker. Leave this in a natural location and ask the Goddess to bring peace to any restless souls in Her care.

Oddly enough, Romans announced engagements today (likely as a way of stressing life’s continuance). So if you’ve been thinking of deepening a relationship, or making a commitment to a beloved project, this is one date that might suit the occasion.  Again, go outside at sunset, and as the sun slips behind the horizon pray to the Goddess. Tell Her your goal or speak your pledges in Her name. Ask Her to rejuvenate your determination so that tomorrow you might be born anew to your task or relationship.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Nephthys” by C. Temares

This another duplicate entry in Patricia Telesco’s book.  Click here to read September 13’s original entry on the Goddess Nephthys.

 

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

Ashwood, Moonwater. Order of the White Moon, “Nephthys: Goddess of Transition“.

Crystalinks.com, “Nephthys“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Nephthys the Egyptian Goddess“.

Hill, J. Ancientegyptonline.co.uk, Nephthys“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nephthys“.

Seawright, Caroline. Touregypt.net, “Nephthys, Sister of Isis, Mistress of the House…“.

Touregypt.net, “Egypt: Gods – Nephthys“.

Wikipedia, “Nephthys

Goddess Nephthys

Appropriate in light of remembering 9/11 and the recent tragedies…

“Nephthys” by Hrana Janto

“Nephthys’s themes are death, spirits and rebirth. Her symbols are fire, baskets and Myrrh.  This Egyptian funerary Goddess had a hawk for a sacred animal. Together they guide and watch the souls of our loved ones in the afterlife. In Egyptian tradition, Nephthys lives in the east, where She can receive the rising sun, a symbol of the hopefulness she can instill and of resurrection.

Today was Nephthys’s festival day in ancient Egypt. As with other festivals for the dead, it was a time not only to propitiate the Goddess with offerings of aromatic incense like myrrh but also to satisfy any wandering spirits. If someone you care about passed away during the last year, burn some incense for this Goddess and leave a small basket filled with a token for her on your altar. This acts as a prayer to Nephthys to keep a watchful eye on that souls and grant them peace.

If you find your sense of hopefulness waning under everyday pressures, light a candle honoring Nephthys today, and every day, until you sense a difference in attitude. Try to choose a candle whose color represents hope and change to you (sprout green is one good choice). Inscribe the candle with a symbol of what you most need to turn things around so that this Goddess can shine dawn’s revitalizing light into your heart and begin relieving some of that heaviness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

J. Hill from Ancient Egypt Online writes: “Nephthys was an ancient Goddess, who was referenced in texts dating back to the Old Kingdom. She was a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis as the daughter of Geb and Nut and the sister of OsirisIsis and Horus and the sister and wife of Set. When the Ennead and Ogdoad merged, Nephthys was given a place on Ra’s boat so that She could accompany him on his journey through the underworld. Nephthys is the Greek pronunciation of Her name. To the Ancient Egyptians She was Nebthwt (Nebhhwt or Nebthet) meaning ‘the Mistress of the House’. The word ‘hwt’ (‘house’) may refer to the sky (as in Hwt-hor, the ‘House of Horus’ – the name of Hathor), but it also refers to either the royal family or Egypt as a whole. The latter makes a great deal of sense as She was described as the head of the household of the gods and was thought to extend Her protection to the head female of every household. She was sometimes associated with Ptah-Tanen in representing Lower Egypt, while Khnum and Isis represented Upper Egypt.

It seems that She was originally conceived of as the female counterpart of Set. He represented the desert, while She represented the air. Set was infertile (like the desert that he represented) and was frequently described as either bisexual or gay and so Nephthys was often considered to be barren. As a Goddess of the air, She could take the form of a bird, and because She was barren She was associated with the vulture – a bird which the Egyptians believed did not bear children. The Egyptians thought that all vultures were female (because there is very little difference in the appearance of a male vulture), and that they were spontaneously created from the air. While the care shown by a mother vulture for her child was highly respected, the Egyptians also recognised that vultures fed on carrion and associated them with death and decay. As a result, Nephthys became a Goddess of death and mourning.

“Nephthys” by C. Temares

Professional mourners were known as the ‘Hawks of Nephthys’, in recognition of Her role as a Goddess of mourning. It was also believed that She protected Hapi in his role as of the Four sons of Horus (who guarded the organs stored in the four canopic jars). Hapi protected the lungs, and as a Goddess of the air Nephthys was his guardian. She was also one of the four Goddesses who guarded the shrine buried with the Pharaoh. She appears with Isis, Selkit (Serqet) and Neith on the gilded shrine of Tutankhamun, but was often depicted with IsisBast and Hathor in this role. Yet, She was also said to be the source of both rain and the Nile river (associating Her with Anuket) and was thought to protect women in childbirth (with the assistance of Her sister, Isis). Thus She was closely associated with both death and life.

“Nephthys” by ~deadheart82

Although She was technically infertile, later myths claimed that She was the mother of Anubis by either Osiris or Set (depending on the myth). This came about because Anubis’ position as the god of the dead was usurped by Osiris when the theologies of the Ennead and the Ogdoad merged. According to one myth Nephthys disguised Herself as Isis to get the attention of Her neglectful husband Set, but instead seduced Osiris (who apparently did not realise that it was Nephthys). An alternative myth made it clear that Nephthys intended to seduce Osiris from the beginning and drugged his wine to make Her task easier, while a less common myth held that She did trick Her husband into a brief daliance in order to concieve Anubis. It is suggested that this tale also explained the flowering of a plant in a normally barren area because Set apparently discovered the adultery when he found a flower left by his brother Osiris.

Isis and Nephthys were very close despite Nephthys’ alleged infidelity with Osiris (the husband of Isis) and Her marriage to Set (the murderer of Osiris). Nephthys protected the body of Osiris and supported Isis as She tried to resurrect him. The Goddesses are so similar in appearance that only Their headdresses can distinguish them and they always appear together in funerary scenes. Together Isis and Nephthys could be said to represent day and night, life and death, growth and decay. In Heliopolis, Isis and Nephthys were represented by two virginal priestesses who shaved off all of their body hair and were ritually pure.

Nephthys was usually depicted as a woman with the hieroglyphs of Her name (a basket on top of the glyph representing the plan of an estate) on Her head. She could also be depicted as a mourning woman, and Her hair was compared to the strips of cloth used in mummification. She also occasionally appears as a hawk, a kite or a winged Goddess in Her role as a protector of the dead. Her major centers of worships were Heliopolis (Iunu, in the 13th Nome of Lower Egypt), Senu, Hebet, (Behbit), Per-mert, Re-nefert, Het-sekhem, Het-Khas, Ta-kehset, and Diospolites.” [1]

 

 

Sources:

Hill, J. Ancientegyptonline.co.uk, Nephthys“.

 

Suggested Links:

Ashwood, Moonwater. Order of the White Moon, “Nephthys: Goddess of Transition“.

Crystalinks.com, “Nephthys“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Nephthys the Egyptian Goddess“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Nephthys“.

Seawright, Caroline. Touregypt.net, “Nephthys, Sister of Isis, Mistress of the House…“.

Touregypt.net, “Egypt: Gods – Nephthys“.

Wikipedia, “Nephthys

Bear Woman

“Bear Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

“Bear Woman’s themes are health, psychic abilities, fertility, unity, love, kinship, instinct, nature, rebirth and energy. Her symbol is the bear. Among the Native Americans, Bear Woman’s power is intimately intertwined with the earth, protecting its creatures and helping humans in hunting. Because of the way bears interact with cubs, Bear Woman refocuses our attention on the importance of family unity, warmth and love (especially in extended families like that of the tribe).

The Bear Dance was once held in February as bears emerged from their caves to commemorate the Utes‘s common ancestry with bears. Continuing the tradition ensures the tribe’s health as well as ensuring ongoing communication with Spirit on important matters through Bear Woman. To adapt this custom, dress up in a furry coat or fuzzy clothing and imitate a bear. This acts as a form of sympathetic magic that draws Bear Woman’s energy to you and helps you commune with it for positive personal transformation.

Also, stop at a nature of science shop that carries stone carvings and get one today.  Carry it to connect with Bear Woman’s strength, endurance, and other positive attributes that you need in your life.

Dreaming of bears today reveals a bear totem or spirit guide in your life offering guidance, or a special message of help from Bear Woman.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

 

“Bear Woman and the Dream Child” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Stephanie Anderson Ladd tells us that “the Native American Bear Woman is protector of Mother Earth and the tribes and clans that walk upon Her. Bear Woman is in Her cycle of power during spring and summer. She has moved out of Her cave with Her cubs underfoot, and is foraging for food and water. She is a shapeshifter who moves through the forest with agility and strength, helping us awaken to our potential and reminding us to not let our creative energies lie dormant. Look for what feeds your soul and chow down!

Bears care for their cubs for a couple of years until they are old enough to go out on their own, and in this way, they are akin to human mothers whose task is to prepare their children to find their own way and learn their own strength. Bear Woman tends to the unity of the family of man and animals, ensuring their safety and protection.

The Bear Goddess is symbolic of the circle of life, death and rebirth. She reminds us to go within when it is time. The Mama Bear guides and protects us on the journey into the Underworld of the Unconscious, where we ponder our lessons and gather our creative energy until it is time to emerge into our cycle of power once again.” [1]

 

 

I thought I’d share this video of the Bear Dance Ceremony from the Cree Nation of Eastmain, February 2010.

 

 

I also really liked this video.  The song is called “The Bear Dance” and pays tribute to the proud Ute people.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Ladd, Stephanie Anderson. Owl & Crow, “The Bear Goddess“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Rosenn, Eva. Shamanic Healing with Eva Rosenn, “Bear Medicine“.

Support Native American Art, “Native American Animal Symbols – The Bear“.

Venefica, Avia. whats-your-sign.com, “Native American Bear Meaning“.

Goddess Marazanna

“Marazanna’s themes are spring, weather, protection, winter, death, rebirth, cycles, change and growth.  Her symbols are dolls (poppets) and water (including ice and snow).  The Polish Goddess for whom this holiday is named represents an odd combination of winter, death and the fruit field’s growth and fertility. As such, She oversees the transitions we wish to make in our lives.

Marzanna is a Polish spring festival which an effigy of Marzanna is tossed into a river to overcome Her wintery nature and ensure that there will be no floods that year. This tradition is likely an antecedent of ancient river sacrifices made to appease the water spirits. Following suit, resolutely throw a biodegradable image of something you wish to overcome this season into any moving water source (even your toilet!). Let Marzenna carry it away, slowly breaking down that negative energy and replacing it with personal growth. Burying an image has the same effect.

To invoke Marzenna’s protection until next winter, write your name and birth date on a piece of paper and freeze it in an ice cube.

Keep the cube in a safe place in the back of your freezer to keep yourself surrounded by Marzenna’s safe barrier. Melt the ice cube later in the year if you need a boost of spring’s revitalizing energy.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Witch .Marzanna” by smokepaint

“Marazanna is a Slavic Goddess associated with death, winter and nightmares. Some sources equate her with the Latvian Goddess Māra, who takes a person’s body after their death. Some medieval Christian sources such as the Mater Verborum also compare Her to the Greek Goddess Hecate, associating Her with sorcery. The Polish chronicler Jan Długosz (15th cent.) likened Her to Ceres, the Roman Goddess of agriculture.” [1] “In pre-Christian times, She was also associated with the harvest.  She was worshipped as the Mother and Goddess of corn and held in very special reverence.  She appears as an old woman dressed in white who becomes a hag when winter hits and slowly dies off.  She is sometimes associated with Witchcraft and divination.” [2]

The tradition of burning or drowning an effigy of Marzanna to celebrate the end of winter is a folk custom that survives in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  This folk custom falls always around the date of 20/21 March – at the vernal equinox when the Spring begins. The female straw effigy of Marzanna can vary in size – it may be a small puppet or a life-size dummy. The doll is set on fire, drowned in a river or both. The ritual is a symbolic farewell to Winter and the dark days that it involved. It shows joy of rebirth of Spring and victory over death. It was believed that the ritual would ensure good harvest. Destroying the effigy of evil Goddess was believed also to remove all the effects brought by Her. According to the custom the straw effigy was placed on a stick and covered with linen. She was also decorated with ribbons and necklaces. Village children would march with Marzanna – and branches of juniper in their hands – around the whole village. They would drown the Marzanna doll in every river (or generally every water – let it be river, pond or puddle) on the way. In the evening Marzanna effigy would be given to the village youth that would take her out of village and (in the light of burning juniper twigs) they would set a doll on fire and drown in the river. There were of course many superstitions connected with that custom. One could not touch Marzanna after it had been drowned in the river (as he would be in danger of losing the hand), looking back on the way back could bring serious disease and stumbling or falling down could predict death within the next year.

Christianity would forbid this Slavic custom. In 1420 Polish clergy was advised not to allow the villagers to celebrate ‘drowning of Marzanna’. When that would not help, the priests would invent their own habit to replace Marzanna custom with it. On Wednesday preceding Easter holidays an effigy of Judas would be thrown down from church tower. But that would not help either to forget about ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ habit.

Nowadays the ritual is kept within schools and kindergartens. During field trips children perform with their teachers ‘Drowning of Marzanna’ to prepare warm welcome to Spring.” [3]

“‘It concerns the ‘drowning of Marzanna’, a large figure of a woman made from various rags and bits of clothing which is thrown into a river on the first day of the spring calendar. Along the way, she is dipped into every puddle and pond … Very often she is burned along with herbs before being drowned and a twin custom is to decorate a pine tree with flowers and colored baubles to be carried through the village by the girls. There are of course many superstitions associated with the ceremony: you can’t touch Marzanna once she’s in the water, you can’t look back at her, and if you fall on your way home you’re in big trouble. One, or a combination of any of these can bring the usual dose of sickness and plague.’  —Tom Galvin, “Drowning Your Sorrows in Spring”, Warsaw Voice 13.544, March 28, 1999″ [4]

Sources:

Stella. Gods and Goddesses, “Goddess Marzanna“.

Swiech, Barbara. BellaOnline: The Voice of Women, “Slavic goddess and Spring“.

Wikipedia, “Marazanna“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Rolek, Barbara. About.com, “The Drowning of Marzanna or Frost Maiden – Topienie Marzanny“.

Svätoslava. Slavorum: Perserving Slavic Heritage,Burning Morena“. (Fabulous background information, photos and videos about Burning of Morena).

Butterfly Maiden

"Butterfly Maiden" by Kristi Davis

“Butterfly Maiden’s themes are rebirth, beauty, fertility, balance, freedom, and nature.  Her symbols are  butterflies, seedlings, rainwater, and spring flowers.  In Hopi tradition, the Butterfly Maiden is a kachina (spirit) who rules the springtime and the earth’s fertility. Butterfly Maiden flutters into our lives today to reconnect us with nature and to help us rediscover that graceful butterfly within each of us – the one that effortlessly rises above problems, making the world its flower.

In magical traditions, the equinox celebrates the sun’s journey back to predominance in the sky and the return of fertility to the earth. It is a joyous fire festival when the elements are in balance, giving us the opportunity to likewise balance our lives. If anything has held you back from real spiritual growth, now is the time to banish it and move on. Visualize yourself as the caterpillar who becomes a becomes a butterfly, then let the Butterfly Maiden give you wings with which to overcome anything!

To inspire Butterfly Maiden’s beauty within and without, wash your face and chakras (near pulse points as well as at the top of the head, in the middle of the forehead, over the heart, near the groin, behind the knees and at the bottom of the feet) with rainwater first thing in the morning (dawn is best). Go outside afterward and toss some flower petals into a spring breeze, saying:

‘Butterfly Maiden, liberate me
Let me mind and spirit ever be free!’

The winds will carry your wish to heaven/the Goddess.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“The Butterfly Maiden, is a Hopi Kachina that governs the Spring.  Kachinas’ are supernatural beings who control nature and have the spirits of living things such as animals and plants within them.  Some Kachinas also hold the spirits of the non-living as well–wind, rain, thunder, lightning, clouds, etc.

            

Examples of Native made Butterfly Maiden kachina dolls.  Click on each picture to be taken to the artist’s site.  

Although most Kachinas’ are not considered to be gods, Butterfly Maiden is believed to be a fertility Goddes who brings about transformation, new beginnings, and fresh starts in life.  She is often pictured as a young Native American woman dressed in and surrounded by butterflies.   She lives within the plants, animals, and female ancestors who  link the human with the Divine.  It is said that She pollinated the world with our nighttime dreams, carrying the life force from Dreamtime into reality; in essence, She makes our dreams come true.  She is a creative force and a symbol of rebirth and regeneration.

"Butterfly Maiden" by Sharon George

In the Native American world, we find that each animal, plant, and insect is said to have energy and spirit.  Their healing qualities are referred to as medicine.   Because butterflies are deeply symbolic of our own unique struggle to grow, butterfly medicine represents transformation and our personal power to heal and transform ourselves.  The butterfly begins its life as an unappealing larva which one day goes into seclusion and emerges  as a beautiful winged creature  which spreads the rest of its life spreading beauty and joy as it flits from one flower to the next.  And as we move through our daily lives which are filled with chaos and challenge, it would do well for us to remember that each of us has one of these beautiful winged creatures inside of us…just waiting to emerge from the darkness.  And, like the butterfly, we need only to enter the stillness and solitude, to look within ourselves.  There we will find this wise inner self waiting to transform us.” [1]

“Butterflies have a complex social meaning to the Hopi people.  They are a symbol of renewal and spring.  Butterflies adorn Hopi basketry,  textiles, pottery and jewelry.  Butterflies are associated with much needed rain for growing corn and other crops.  The butterfly dance, a social dance that occurs at the end of every summer, has spiritual significance.  The dance is a prayer to bring rains and also is a community celebration in the gathering of dancers, singers, and families.” [2]

Sources:

An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Butterfly Maiden“.

Cantley, Janet. It’s a Bug’s World…Insect Motifs in American Indian Art,  Heard Museum West in the Heard Museum Journal

Suggested Links:

Anderson-Childers, Molly J. Creativity Portal, “Soaring with the Hopi Butterfly Maiden“.

Fewkes, J. Walter. American Anthropologist, “The Butterfly in Hopi Myth and Ritual“.

Lavanee. Goddess School, “Butterfly Maiden“.

Martise, Cloe. “The Nine Native Holy Women”.

Sacred Space Sister Goddess Circle Blog, “Butterfly Maiden: Transformation“.

Taphorn, Sharon. Lightworkers.org, “Butterfly Maiden ~ Working with Butterfly Medicine“.

Venefica, Avia. What’s-Your-Sign.com, “Butterfly Animal Symbolism“.

Goddess Ostara

“Ostara” by Asaenath

“Ostara’s themes are fertility and rebirth.  Her symbols are eggs.  The Teutonic Goddess Ostara presides over personal renewal, fertility and fruitfulness. Now that spring is here, it’s a good time to think about renewal in your own life. Ostara represents spring’s life force and earth’s renewal. Depicted as lovely as the season itself, in earlier writings She was also the Goddess of dawn, a time of new beginnings (spring being the figurative dawn of the year). One of Ostara’s name variations, Esotara, slowly evolved into the modern name for this holiday, Easter.

All spells and foods that include eggs are appropriate today. If you’ve been ill, try an old folk spell that recommends carrying an egg for twenty-four hours, then burying it to bury the sickness.

To improve fertility of all kinds, make eggs for breakfast at dawn’s first light, the best time to invoke Ostara. As you eat, add an incantation like this one:

 ‘Ostara, bring to me fertility
With this egg now bless my fruitfulness!’

Or, if you’re feeling down and need a little extra hope, get up before the sun rises and release a symbol of your burden to the earth by dropping or burying it. Don’t look at it! Turn your back and leave it there. Turn toward the horizon as the sun rises, and harvest the first flower you see. Dry it, then carry it with you often as a charm to preserve hope in your heart.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Ostara” by Mickie Mueller

The Goddess Ostara, or Eostre, is the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, the East, Resurrection, and Rebirth, is also the Maiden aspect of the Three-fold Goddess.  She gave Her name to the Christian festival of Easter (which is an older Pagan festival appropriated by the Church), whose timing is still dictated by the Moon. Modern Pagans celebrate Her festival on the Vernal Equinox, usually around March 21, the first day of Spring.

Ostara was an important Goddess of spring to the ancient Saxons, but we know little else of Her other than this. Some have suggested that Ostara is merely an alternate name for Frigg or Freya, but neither of these Goddesses seem to have quite the same fertility function as Ostara does. Frigg, Goddess of the home, wouldn’t seem to be associated with such an earthy festival and Freya’s form of fertility is more based on eroticism than reproduction.

However, Ostara is associated, almost interchangebly, with many different Goddesses.  [Again, purely speculation] She is essentially identical to Freya, for She is the Goddess of the fertile spring, the resurrection of life after winter. She was equated with the Goddess Idunna, who bore the Apples of Eternal Youth to the Aesir, and many believe that Ostara and Idunna are the same, or represent the same principle. She is almost certainly the same as the Greek Goddess Eos, Goddess of the Dawn. (Again, following the threefold theme — Eos is the Maiden aspect of the three goddesses Eos /Dawn, Hemera /Day and Nyx/Night.) As Ostara is Goddess of the Dawn, we can understand why sunrise services have always been an important aspect of the spring resurrection/rebirth observances of other cultures.

Eggs and rabbits are sacred to Her as is the full moon  [though there is no historical record of this], since the ancients saw in its markings the image of a rabbit or the hare. Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of colored eggs to Her at the Vernal Equinox. They placed them at graves especially, probably as a charm of rebirth. (Egyptians and Greeks were also known to place eggs at gravesites). The Goddess of Fertility was also the Goddess of Grain, so offerings of bread and cakes were also made to Her. Rabbits are sacred to Ostara, especially white rabbits, and She was said to be able to take the form of a rabbit.

One myth says Ostara found a bird dying from the cold. She changed it to a rabbit so it could keep warm. Maybe this is why the Easter Bunny brings eggs to children on Easter. Traditionally German children are told that it is the Easter hare that lays all the Easter eggs. [1][2]

“Ostara” by Helena Nelson-Reed

“Part of the story of the Easter bunny is excerpted below, but you can use this link to read the complete version of Easter History and Traditions, including the stories of the Goddesses, at the website: Easter History and Traditions

The Goddess Ostara and the Origin of the Easter Bunny: A Modern Neo-Pagan Tale

Ostara, the Goddess of Dawn (Saxon), who was responsible for bringing spring each year, was feeling guilty about arriving so late. To make matters worse, She arrived to find a pitiful little bird who lay dying, his wings frozen by the snow. Lovingly, Ostara cradled the shivering creature and saved his life.

Legend has it that She then made him Her pet or, in the X-rated versions, Her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly because of his frost-damaged wings, the Goddess Ostara turned him into a rabbit, a snow hare, and gave him the name Lepus.

She also gave him the gift of being able to run with astonishing speed so he could easily evade all the hunters.  To honor his earlier form as a bird, She also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but he was only allowed to lay eggs on one day out of each year.

Eventually Ostara lost Her temper with Lepus (some say the raunchy rabbit was involved with another woman), and She flung him into the skies where he would remain for eternity as the constellation Lepus (The Hare), forever positioned under the feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter).

But later, remembering all the good times they had once enjoyed, Ostara softened a bit and allowed the hare to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring.” [3]  Again, there is no historical documentation or lore that states this and I really have no idea where the tale originated from.

Variant spellings: Eostra, Eostrae, Eostre, Eástre, Austra [4]

 

 

 

Sources:

Ashliman, D.L. The University of Pittsburgh: German 1500: Germanic Myths, Legends, and Sagas,Ostara’s Home Page: The Germanic Goddess of Springtime“.

The Goddess Gift E-zine, “The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny: The Art of Renewal“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Eostre“.

Yvonne. Earth Witchery, “Ostara or Eostre“.

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

Aloi, Peg, Witches’ Voice, “You Call It Easter, We Call It Ostara“.

The Blue Roebuck,”Eostre“.

Cavalorn. Cavalorn.livejournal.com, “Eostre: The Making of a Myth“.

Fox, Selena. Circle Sanctuary, “Ostara Meditation“.

Goddess E-zine, “The Goddess Ostara, the Easter Bunny, and Their History in Easter Tradition“.

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Ostara: History of Easter Eggs, History of the Easter Bunny, Goddess Ishtar and the First Resurrection“.

Goddessgift.com, “Ostara (Oestre): Saxon Goddess of the Dawn and Spring“.

Love of the Goddess, “Ostara, Celebration of the Goddess of Spring.”

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Eostre: walk with a ‘spring’ in your step“.

Wikipedia, “Ēostre

Goddess Ala

“Ala’s themes are luck, harvest, joy, cleansing, death and cycles.  Her symbols are yams and the crescent moon.  This West African earth-Goddess represents the full cycle of earth’s seasons from birth to death, gently reminding us that spring is transitory – so enjoy it now! Serious crimes are an abhorrence to Ala, and the spirits of the dead go to Her womb to find rest. Votive candles are a suitable offering for this Goddess figure.

When you get up this morning, light any candle to welcome both Ala and spring. If possible, include yams in your dinner meal to internalize the joy and good fortune Ala brings with the warmer weather. Bless your yams by putting your hands (palms down) over them, focusing on your goals, and saying:

‘Ala, be welcome
In this your sacred food, place the energy of happiness,
luck and protection for the months ahead. So be it.’

The people of Ghana believe in celebrating the new year over thirteen days instead of one. During this time they dance to banish evil, honor their dead ancestors, encourage serendipity, and petition Ala for a good harvest season. Ala’s shrines and other sacred places are bathed on the last day of festivities to  wash away the old, along with bad memories. For us this equates to dusting off our altars, bathing any god or Goddess images we have, and generally cleansing away old energies so Ala can refresh us.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

"Ala" by saiaii

Ala (also known as AniAnaAle, and Ali in varying Igbo dialects) is the Earth Mother Goddess; female Alusi (deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. The Igbo people of Nigeria call Her the mother of all things, but She is both the fertile earth and the empty field after the harvest. She is present at the beginning of the cycle of life, making children grow in their mother’s womb, and She is there at the end of the cycle, to receive the souls of the dead into Her own womb.  Her name literally translates to ‘Ground’ in the Igbo language, denoting Her powers over the earth and Her status as the ground itself. Ala is considered the highest Alusi in the Igbo pantheon and was the first Alusi, daughter of Chukwu, the supreme god. Ala’s husband is Amadioha, the sky god.

As the Goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as ‘Omenala‘. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala. Army ants, who serve the Goddess, attack those who break such rules.  But first, they appear in nightmares so that the wrongdoer might rectify his behavior.  All ground is considered ‘Holy land’ as it is Ala herself. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of land. Ala’s messenger and living agent on earth is the python (Igbo: éké), it is and animal especially revered in many Igbo communities. [1][2]

 

 

 

“Ala’s shrine is at the center of a village, people offer sacrifices at planting, first fruits, and harvest.  In the Owerri region, building called Mbari honor the Goddess.  They are never occupied, the ritual of building being more important than the structure.  The square Mbari are filled with painted figures of Ala, who balances a child on Her knees while she brandishes a sword and is surrounded by the images of other gods and animals.  Due to poverty and war, Mbari are built less frequently and are smaller than in the past.” [3]

 

 

Please visit Sisters in Celebration to read a beautiful earth healing ritual to Ala.

 

 

 

Sources:

37thState Blog, “Ala – Igbo Earth Mother Goddess“.

Monaghan, Patricia.  Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ala“.

Wikipedia, “Ala (Odinani)“.

 

Suggested Links:

Freya. Goddess School, “Ala“.

Goddess-Guide.com, “Fertility Goddesses and Goddesses of Pregnancy and Childbirth“.

Wise. Odinani: The Sacred Arts & Sciences of the Igbo People, “Honoring Your Ancestors“.

 

 

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